[Pre-departure] Thoughts as an Adoptee Before Studying Abroad in China

Words cannot describe how excited I am for summer. But this summer won’t be like any summers that have come before it. I will be enrolled in CET’s Intensive Language Learning Program in Beijing, China (2014), and this will be the first time I return to my “homeland.” Continue reading

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Thoughts on “My Adoption Story” – aka DAN Adoption Documentary Part 1

I just finished watching DANakaDAN’s adoption series on ISAtv. I enjoyed the perspective, but there were many questions left unanswered, which is fine, but if he is comfortable to continue sharing his story, it will be nice to hear more about how this experience affected him in the long run and what he plans to do moving forward. Although he said he didn’t want to make the experience into a “carnival”, I think as long as the focus is on adoption, documentaries are a powerful way to help people understand the emotional and confusing journey of adoption, not only for the adoptee but also for anyone who has ever entered the adoptee’s life. All in all, the series contributes a unique perspective because it shows cultural and language challenges as well as the importance of keeping an open mind and understanding that even if an adoptee meets their birth family, the journey doesn’t end there. What adoption means to an adoptee will change throughout their lives as new experiences and understandings are gained.

The Old Man and the Bus

It’s noon on a Friday morning. My bus was supposed to arrive an hour ago. A freshman from university is pacing in front of the terminal door. In between his steps, I try to make some small talk to pass the time and feel reassured about where our bus will be heading. He tells me his bus was cancelled this morning; he’s trying to make it to a party tonight. We talk a bit more before he starts pacing again. Another woman I talk with says she has class in an hour. The weather is screwing everyone over, from Friday-night ragers to academic pursuits. As for me, I’m just trying to visit home for the weekend.

All the people—going different places, having different things to do—are so fascinating. Unfortunately, because people have places to be, many of the delayed busses made the atmosphere tense. I tried to remain calm, hoping for the best. As I waited in line, an older gentleman approached me, speaking Chinese.

“请问,你说中文吗?” (Qǐngwèn, nǐ shuō zhōngwén ma? Excuse me, do you speak Chinese?)

I was caught a bit off guard, but not as much as the first time this has happened. I replied, “有一点。” (Yǒu yīdiǎn. A little.) Continue reading

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NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams – The Lost Children

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams – The Lost Children

International adoptees who have been “re-homed” are featured in this national news story from Kate Snow. 

This story is so sad, but I am glad that adoption stories like these are being featured nationally. It is important to bring awareness to some of the darker aspects of adoption. Not every story will have a happy ending once an adoptee is placed in a home. 

I cannot imagine facing the same situation as Nora Gateley, the interviewee who was adopted from China. Parents who wish to adopt need to understand and accept the responsibilities they will have once they bring a child into their home. If they are not ready to deal with the consequences of parenting and adopting, they should not become parents. 

Adoption Shapes Who I Am, But It Doesn’t Define Who I Am

“Who was it who said, ‘We cannot look at the sun all the time, we cannot face death all the time’? These patients can consider the possibility of their own death for a while but then have to put this consideration away in order to pursue life” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (1969) in On Death and Dying (p. 34).

Although Elisabeth Kubler-Ross based her five stages of grief on terminally ill patients, her model can be used for all forms of grief, including the grief adoptees feel over their birthparents and sometimes their birth culture. After switching a few words around in the quotation above, I felt more at peace about my adoption situation:

We cannot look at the sun all the time, we cannot face adoption all the time. Adoptees can consider the possibilities of their own adoption for a while but then have to put these considerations away in order to pursue life.

Recently, I am glad to be able to think more about how adoption affects me, but sometimes it’s too intense. Sometimes I need to let it all go. Eventually it will come back to me, and I’ll have to deal with it again, but hopefully the next time, I’ll be stronger.

 My adoption is important to think about, but there’s more—so much more—to life. Adoption shapes who I am, but it doesn’t define who I am. 

“Mommy!”

As I was walking to my car, I noticed a cute, small girl with dark black hair and a yellow top sitting on the curb. An older woman with light brown hair and fair skin stood within reach of the girl. I wondered if this woman was her mother even though they were different races. I wondered if the child was adopted, like me.

“Mommy!” The girl called out suddenly, and not a second later, the woman turned and tended to the child.

This caught my breath, and as I walked closer to where they were sitting, I may have stared a bit too long. I pondered the idea of stopping and talking to them. I wanted to ask if she was adopted and where she was from. My heart longed to express my own experiences, and I felt a connection to this little girl – I wanted a connection. Continue reading

Adopted Documentary

Adoption is so complicated—there are so many different ways to look at it. Until recently, the subject was only in the back of my mind because it would make me sad to think about my birthparents. I also felt that my adoptive parents were enough for me; where I am now is where I am supposed to be, and the fact that I am adopted is not important as long as our family loves each other. As I am beginning to understand myself more as an adult, I am realizing just how prevalent adoption is in my life. I am an Adopted Asian American. Adoptees can only relate to other adoptees when it comes to certain experiences and thoughts. This is what makes us different from Asian Americans, and sometimes this can make us feel isolated. We have our issues like other Asian Americans, but we have extra baggage. With love, care, support, and education from friends and family, adoptees may have an easier time accepting their complicated adoption and understanding their complex identity.

The 2009 documentary, Adopted, by Barb Lee, features two perspectives: one view is from an adult Korean adoptee who is coping with her adoption and the other view is from a white couple, John and Jacqui Trainer, who is adopting from China. Jennifer Fero, the Korean adoptee, expresses her struggle with identity and the things she wishes her adoptive parents would have done. Viewers see Fero’s confusion and pain, which makes them wonder if the adopted girl from China will feel the same and if her parents will guide her better through the issues that may come up as she grows older. Fero is a powerful voice for adoptees because she addresses the other side of the coin that adoptive parents may not realize. For example, being colorblind is not as good as people think; adoption is more than just a happy ending; and whether the adoption is closed or open, birthparents have a strong impact on adoptees. In addition, grief and finding identity are difficult to deal with as an adoptee, but having supportive, understanding parents helps ease the confusion and pain. Continue reading